May We Be Solidarious

By Rev. Jeanelle Nicolas Ablola, re-posted from Enfleshed

We must be solidarious, meaning one with everybody, with the care of the planet, and we must be willing to accompany people’s movements for their rights, justice, peace. And so I put my education and my experience and my commitment to that service.” – Rev. Marta Benavides

I heard a podcast once about humpback whales saving a seal from an orca attack.* One of the whales swam belly up, and put the seal on its belly. When it seemed like the seal might slip off during their escape, the whale would raise a fin to guide the seal back onto its belly.* Humpback whales have been recorded saving other animals, like sunfish and seals, from orca attacks. And scientists can’t agree on why. Some speculate that they may be instinctually wired to interfere with orca attacks because, in doing so, they might save a humpback whale calf. So in their act of trying to help their own family or community get free, they inadvertently help others get free.

10 years ago, I met Rev. Marta Benavides through Churches Witnessing with Migrants (CWWM). In El Salvador, she journeyed alongside Archbishop Oscar Romero. When sharing her experiences and expertise, she would occasionally bring up this concept of being solidarious – “We must be ‘solidarious’ as one vs be ‘in solidarity’ with other’s interests.”*

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We Flesh

From Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This is the sermon that Baby Suggs gives one Saturday, sitting in the Clearing while the people waited among the trees. The Clearing was “a wide-open place cut deep in the woods nobody knew for what at the end of a path known only to deer and whoever cleared the land in the first place.”

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Here in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs,

flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard.

Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it.

They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out.

No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it.

And O my people they do not love your hands.

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A Wake

By Robert Jones, Jr., re-posted from his MLK Day substack newsletter. Subscribe here.

“The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)

Hello Family,

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is a day on which a particular kind of performance is expected of every Black American.

It is believed that we should join hands; sing sweet gospel songs; be respectable, conciliatory, and most importantly, civil representatives of the man assassinated by the very nation that turned him into a hollow holiday platitude. A man whose face they put on postage stamps and t-shirts to sell back to us at a premium.

For us, today is supposed to be a day of forgiving, certainly; but most of all: of forgetting.

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Freeing God to be God

By Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, Pastor Emeritus, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ

The Spirit of God brings peace, consolation, and perspective in times of personal and collective trauma and tragedies. Having served as a public and parish Christian pastor for over four decades, I have counseled, listened to, cried with people, and have come to know the power of God for uplift, hope, and comfort. I have also known and experienced how God can be used for hurt, ridicule, diminishment, oppression, and exclusion. I have witnessed the goodness of God, and the hurt inflicted on people by human pronouncements of God. I have seen God used for both good and bad, and for liberation and oppression. It is all in the interpretation of God and claims of “truth.”

People seek “truth” in life, after-life, and for living right, and deeply desire to live on the right-side of the “truth”. People come to faith experiences seeking encouragement, strength, and “truth” for living. This is the reason the “Golden Rule” manifests itself in so many forms, ‘Do to others as you would have them to do to you’, and is core to so many faith traditions. However, unfortunately, there are political and economic structures, such as monarchs, empires, forms of governments, and individuals that have deliberately manipulated the concept of God towards material and political ends. They have seized on the desire for “truth” among the masses, by reshaping and remolding the concept of God into materialistic and nationalistic loyalties. Divinity is often exploited and manipulated to maintain systems of power, protect the status-quo by offering equations of absolutism forcing almost slavish obedience upon masses of people who only seek to live in “truth”, and on the correct side of God. Political leaders and governments create a central narrative of God that becomes a form of political orthodoxy, just like faith traditions create orthodoxies. Those who question this authority and its absolutism are criticized, ostracized, ridiculed, villainized, and often killed for endangering the existent order of things. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, was lionized for civil rights, but villianized for his critique of the war in Vietnam. He had violated the political orthodoxy.  

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Indigenous Resurgence

An excerpt from Noura Erakat’s recent piece (“Designing the Future in Palestine”) in Boston Review. Read the full article. It’s so worth it.

…[Palestinians] are moving in tandem with other Indigenous communities increasingly engaged in Indigenous resurgence. This is a phenomenon, explains Cherokee political scientist Jeff Corntasssel, that reframes decolonization by turning away from the state to “focus more fully on the complex interrelationships between Indigenous nationhood, place-based relationships, and community centered practices that reinvigorate everyday acts of renewal and regeneration.” This shift does not reject state-centric diplomacy or abandon the struggle against the settler sovereign. A full pivot away from such engagement would be short-sighted and counterproductive, especially for Palestinians who remain forcibly exiled from their lands and barricaded within militarized ghettoes. Rather, Indigenous resurgence centers Indigenous life and governance alongside other approaches. It seeks to undo the alienating force of colonization by reconnecting “homelands, cultures, and communities.” In particular regard to Palestinians, scholars Nour Joudah, Tareq Radi, Dina Omar, and Randa Wahbe explain, resurgence facilitates a “self-recognition” that transforms “fragmentation into a strength” and “variegated experiences of loss” into “a politics of care.”

If decolonization typically pits native against settler in a struggle for the land, Indigenous resurgence focuses on how to belong most ethically in relationship to one another and to the land. 

The Reality

By Chava Redonnet, the pastor of Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church which meets in the dining room of the Rochester Catholic Worker. This is the bulletin for Sunday, January 8, 2022.                                            

Dear Friends,

On New Year’s morning, I woke up knowing what the day would hold: Second Christmas, celebrating with the family members who couldn’t make it on Christmas because of the weather. I was surprised to realize that although I was very much looking forward to time with my family, the thought of another Christmas dinner left me feeling…  unenthusiastic.  As the day went on, texting with my daughters, I realized I was not alone in that. Feeling some mounting stress, I finally texted a list of everything our family has been through in the past two months. Four of us had covid. Three job changes. Two moves, two blizzards, two missed holidays, two surgeries and a car accident. Everyone in the family has had one or more major events happen. We are exhausted! So I pointed that out, and our need for a low-key day. “We’re not going to make up for all that today,“ I said. We changed our dinner plans and ordered pizza.

In the end we had a lovely day, and enjoyed being together. We told stories, we laughed. The pizza was delicious, and no one seemed to miss the fancier meal we had planned. We downsized our expectations and that turned out to be the best thing we could have done.

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Getting Rid of Jesus

By Greg Jarrell, re-posted from his blog Trespasses of the Holy (December 15, 2022)

Charlotte’s westward expansion, beyond Uptown, Biddleville, Wesley Heights, was in full swing around 1924, when Julia Alexander and her family decided to subdivide and sell off her deceased father’s estate, called Enderly. The old farm would become site of hundreds of houses, plus neighborhood businesses. And as it is with Baptist people, anywhere there was a new neighborhood, there was a new Baptist church. By December 1925, the Glenwood Baptist meeting had official status with the Mecklenburg-Association Baptist Association. The 41 charter members met in various spots along Tuckaseegee Road, but as the church grew over the rest of the Roaring ‘20s, it became clear they needed a building of their own. In 1930, in the full throes of the Great Depression, the trajectory of the church – by then called Enderly Park Baptist – was clearly on the way up, and so preparations for a new structure were made. In April of that year, the membership met as part of a revival series and voted to begin constructing a new building. Julia Alexander donated land at the corner of Tuckaseegee and Enderly Rd to site the structure on. At the revival meeting the night of the decision, Rev. J.M. Page preached on the Gerasene Demoniac, from Mark 5. His message was titled “Getting Rid of Jesus.”

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Five Books: Charles Cha

In a new Radical Discipleship exclusive series, we are asking radical Christian leaders one question.

What are the five books or authors that have seriously shaped your spiritual life?

This is how L.A.-based activist Charles Cha answered.

The Post-Colonial Studies Reader

Beyond Civilization By Daniel Quinn

Notes on Resistance: Interviews with Noam Chomsky By David Barsamian

Anarchism: Arguments For and Against By Albert Meltzer

The Wisdom of the Enneagram By Don Richard Riso

The Quelling Word: Emancipation is Still Coming

By Ken Sehested

Written against the backdrop of New Year’s Eve services, 1862, when African Americans gathered to await news of US President Abraham Lincoln’s promised Emancipation Proclamation. Inspired by Revelation 21:1-6a, lectionary text for the New Year’s Eve Watch Night service.

The angel breaks with Heaven’s hail!

from Joy’s horizon on every weary heart,

amid that unruly, precarious land beyond

where cheery sentiment stalls and merry,

bright roads end. Now, in terrain beyond all

mapping, the adventure begins. No warranty

reaches this far. Creature comforts here are

Continue reading “The Quelling Word: Emancipation is Still Coming”